Live blogging: CME Group’s Q1 conference call

Chicago-based clearinghouse and futures exchange operator, CME Group Inc. just met earnings expectations of $4.02 per diluted share but saw a decline in net income, revenues and trading volume due largely to a lack of market volatility.

“During the first quarter, global trading volumes were impacted by low levels of volatility, particularly in financial instruments” said Terry Duffy, the company’s executive chairman. For the quarter ended March 30, the company reported net income attributable to CME Group of $267 million or $4.02 cents per diluted share, compared with income of, $456.6 million or $6.81 per diluted share in the year-ago quarter. During the first quarter of 2011, CME earnings were helped by a one-time tax credit of $164 million. Excluding the credit, earnings in the year-ago quarter were $292 million or $4.36.

Operating income fell to $451 million from $524 million during the first quarter of 2011. Earnings declined 42 percent from the year-ago quarter,( the decline was closer to 8.5 percent excluding earnings attributable to the tax credit the company received last year), and just missed revenue expectations of  $778.9 million. The company reported revenues of $775 million, a 6.9 percent decrease from the same quarter in 2011.

Average daily volume was 12.3 million contracts, down 11 percent from the first quarter of 2011, which benefited from exceptionally strong volume due to volatility in the Middle East and Japan’s catastrophic earthquake.

The company recently announced an impending change in leadership with CEO Craig Donohue resigning at the end of the year. Donohue, who has held the position since 2004 will be replaced by Phupinder Gill, the company’s current president. CME recently came under fire for its oversight of MF Global, which imploded in October 2011 with about $1.6 billion in client funds unaccounted for. The company denies any connection between Donohue’s resignation and the ongoing MF Global meltdown.

On Monday CME entered into a $151.5 million deal to sell the bulk of its historic Chicago Board of Trade buildings.

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